Mental health issues vary in their course, and as with most disorders, there are varying levels of disability, relapse, and recovery. However, research has identified trends in certain treatments and life changes that are more likely to lead to healing. One of the most important factors is getting quality mental health help early on.
Seeing a mental health provider when you first start experiencing symptoms can lessen the impact the disorder has on your life as well as help you have the resources you need to cope, whether your difficulties last one week or your whole life.
My field, psychosis risk, is founded on the findings that duration of untreated psychosis is strongly associated with having a better outcome. Whichever the mental health issue, getting help early on will give you a longer amount of time to live your healthiest, happiest life.
One of the symptoms of depression, which is common both in itself and as a co-occuring mental health issue, is that it is easier to see your future as negative than positive. If that is the case, the last thing you want to do is confront your mental health, because it is difficult to see the good that can come out of it!
However, as you may know from other areas of your life, the longer you have a habit, the harder it is to break. The same is true for thinking patterns, which are a core component of all mental health issues. The longer your thinking patterns are unhealthy, the easier it will be for your brain to fall back on them; on the other hand, the earlier you can work on changing those patterns the better your long-term emotional health will be. While that sounds like a big endeavour, therapists are experts in spotting and correcting negative thinking patterns, and can guide you through how to make this change in your everyday life.
Seeking early interventions can also help prevent other mental health issues from occurring. This in turn will reduce the burden of long-term effects such as having difficulties thinking or attending work/school or maintaining friendships as they.
You might be thinking, “But I don’t have a mental health issue! This doesn’t apply to me.” However, everyone has a mind, and therefore everyone has a certain level of mental health! Consider having regular check-ins with yourself to address how your emotions and thoughts have been recently. Have you had trouble sleeping or concentrating? Have you been making life decisions based out of fear? Think about whether there is any aspect of your thinking or experience that is bothering you or preventing you from living up to your full potential.
Embrace the time to reflect. It’s not feasible to go to a therapist with every concern you have, but there are many free online resources, such as The Inpathy Bulletin, that can guide your self-reflection. If you are having trouble paying for therapy, you can try your school psychologist, university counselling center, or community centers.
Your mental health is an easy thing to put on the back burner when things get busy. But by taking the time to address any concerns you have, or even just take a pulse check on your brain health, you can help your long-term success and actually prevent future issues.
It might be difficult to see the benefits, but feel confident that your time investing in your mental health is never wasted. The earlier you get the treatment you need, whether it’s talking therapy, medication, or something else, the longer you can live to the best of your potential.